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Thinking Inside The Box

September 26, 2016 Leave a comment

thinkinsidetheboxYou read it right … “think inside the box”.

It’s the new buzz phrase around the water cooler (or Redbull dispenser – whichever you have).

Confused? Yes – Good. I don’t have throw my coffee cup away yet.

Here is a little bit the chew on. We’ve been thinking so hard “outside the box” since the latter 80s that, well, “thinking outside the box” is now THE BOX.

The idea behind “thinking outside the box” is doing things differently than everyone else, or truly failing differently than everyone else has been years before you to discover newer, better ways to do the things you do (hmmm … that sounds like a tag line for a really bad millennial commercial). Just to be specific … a really bad millennial commercial is one of those ones where you reach the end, and if there isn’t a company brand floating all over the screen you basically end up thinking “WFT????????????????????? (not WTF … see, now THAT’s being different – we think outside the box here at SWB on a regular basis).”

Considering I work in two ever changing tech fields (Information Technology and Sound Engineering), thinking differently with a good baseline of a solid box to sit new advances on is critical. It’s the only way solid advances are made – along with a little bit of user beta testing and QA processes. Oops, sorry, too many corporate words in that sentence … get over it, and don’t judge me (this is a free country and I’m allowed to enjoy my stereotype).

Want an example? (you guessed it, I’m going to pick on the millennial kiddies again):

Well, whether you like it or not here it is: The big news item on millennials is them living in shared housing. Guess what?  That’s hippie communal living ….. from the 60s. Yep, the newbies couldn’t think of anything but what was already done. If there a difference between the two groups?  Yes – the millennials, even though living in a shared enviro are still materialistic entitled nerds trying to look like they are helping the world by living in a shared environment (filled with many things created with manufacturing processes that are massively toxic). The hippies actually lived together to try and help each other live off the land and share resources, in theory bettering the world (then they discovered mini vans and some of them became hot soccer moms, so that ideal went south). Basically the hippies in today’s world became the box. The millennials are the box too, they just built one that was translucent so they could be in denial about being in it (ya know – if you can’t see it, it’s not there).  BTW …. lots of corporate people do that too.

To get a grip on things – thinking outside the box became the inside of the box and the only way to actually think outside of the box was to get back in the box thus avoiding the outside of the box standard issue thinking that was actually inside the box and in reality only a facsimile of the outside of the box which is limiting your ability to create and innovate inside the box while trying to claw your way out. Simple.

{{place confused dog head tilt here}}

This is not insanity … hang in there, we just bought a new bag of treats and we’ll give you one once you “get it”.

The latest big deal is gamification. See we’re already doing it here at SWB … you get a “treat” if you “get it”. Goal!!!

Keep in mind this doesn’t mean we have to “get it”, just as long as you do. We’ll have no idea what you are actually “getting”, but what the heck, we’re too old to care.

Gamification …. for those not familiar, it’s basically setting a goal and leaving a trail of chocolate chip cookies to it. For those that may have issues getting to their goals because they may be allergic to the chocolate, or the nut particles that may have ended up in the cookies … they can always get a second mortgage on their house to purchase an EpiPen from Mylan helping them get back on track.

Granted, with all of the millennials around me, I was starting to feel left out … so I ordered myself two boxes of trophies from Oriental Trading to make up for all the ones my teachers, coaches, and parents never handed out to me {sniff!}. I want gamification too … hopefully today’s trophy will be a Pez dispenser filled with cola flavored candies.

So, do you get it? … I know you’ve chewed a bit (and we do realize that might be your own tongue you are chewing … you might want to realize that too) … which means you have to be close to “getting it”. Remember, we have fresh treats.

Got it?

It’s all a game of making your outside the box thinking last long enough to allow you to make a difference before someone defines you as “the box”.

… or you can just grab a coffee, go fishing, and allow someone else to stroke out over it.

-SWB

  • Reality shows were initially created to give you a peak into someone else’s real life freeing you from the typically scripted shows with tons of writers … now the reality shows are massively scripted with more writers than a sitcom of the same length. Reality shows are now hated and have become a box that’s worse that the previous box.
  • A great film maker named George Romero was best known for creating an entirely new film experience – zombie movies. The Walking Dead did an excellent job of thinking outside the box and improving on George’s innovation in an actual TV series … then everyone copied and created endless amounts of copy cat zombie movies … enough to induce vomiting by 1 in 5 people on a daily basis. Overkill made an even thicker box that may never be broken out of.
  • IBM created and innovation called the “PC” by thinking way outside the box of their room sized behemoths that even large corporations struggled to afford. Others thought even further outside of the box making those “PCs” the mainstay of data centers, but drove that into a level of overkill that convinced IBM to go back to their old “in the box” creation “the mainframe”.  Guess what you are on most of the time when you use “the cloud”? BTW … the cloud is an innovation that’s been around since about the latter 80s.
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Switching Positions – Crazy Mocha

September 12, 2016 Leave a comment

cr-first-day-picAlrighty, then ….. for all those loving to jump to conclusions, this article isn’t about making lifestyle choices or anything of the such.

Sorry to disappoint y’all … so ya can jump back from whatever conclusion you landed on (or skip reading this post and pop in your “Office Space” VHS tape .. which will probably be more entertaining).

Anywayz (we’re adding “z’s” to then end of lots of words to appeal more the Millennial generation) :-),

The pic is the view of the new Crazy Mocha store in Sewickley, PA. Now, for a SWB article, does this have a point at all?

Yep.

The blog, when it was on Apple’s web hosting site (yeeeeaaaarrrrs ago) was started with it’s first post in April of 2006 and the posts for years after being written at the Crazy Mocha in Southside when the company had a few stores to speak of. At least two other national blogs and twenty to thirty long time running local blogs were started that year in that Crazy Mocha location.

Now, the newest gem of the store chain – the relocated site in Sewickley PA site has opened for it’s first day with the chain now having way over 30 stores in multiple states (not bad for a local Pittsburgh company, right?)

In honor of Crazy Mocha providing such a beautiful new store, SWB thought it might be a good time to re-kick Screaming Weasel (not to mention with some inspiration from the latest literal bridge burning of the Liberty Bridge).

Check out the new store if you get a chance – even if you don’t live in the area … it is well worth the stop in to another location to celebrate and support a local company.

If you can’t get out to Sewickley – stop at another Crazy Mocha and tell them you saw the post!

-SW

Review: Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Click Pic for link. SWB has spent years in The Strip, especially liking Wholey’s seafood.  So when Luke decided to open his own seafood spot, we figured it would be hot.

Placed in the old Area 51 spot across from Reyna foods, the space is simple, slightly rustic yet elegant, and very, very, very tasty.  We are convinced that no one does seafood like Luke.

When we went, we treated ourselves to the grilled swordfish. Personally, I have never experienced swordfish as well prepared and moist as I had at Luke’s. The service by all staff (including Luke himself) was excellent. The drinks were heaven. The atmosphere overall with the food quality made a very long day end quite nicely due to Luke’s Grille.

We highly recommend you visit and support this sure to be future Pittsburgh mainstay.

-SWB

Marty’s Market – new site at an old friend’s house

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Marty’s Market – 23rd and Smallman

…. if you recognize the address, it used to be the Right By Nature market, which just didn’t make it. We were fans of that store in the beginning, but near the end it just wasn’t the same.

Marty’s seems to be playing a better game … so keep tuned as it grows, as SWB feels you may be pleasantly surprised.  And, yes …. there is a Marty.

Marty’s was conceived as a business in the businesses of helping change the local food system, and having “food made of food”.  Sound familiar.  Not really, right?  Most of the food businesses are in the business of bottom line only …. not caring whether you eat, nor whether you can still fit though the door of your house.  The people at Marty’s actually care, and that shows in how the business is evolving.

To those those who like the mainstream stuff, we apologize, as we are elated that at no time will you ever see Marty’s contracting out the cafe’ to McDip’s.  The food at Marty’s will actually be good for you.

As we said, we shopped at and liked Right By Nature in the beginning, but as they compromised their beliefs, things became confusing, and as a result they eventually went away.

We don’t feel that Marty’s will at any point, go away. SWB sees a much better business model in place.  Things like starting small, and not opening with a huge bang allow the folks at Marty’s to really tweak things to what customers want.  With trained staff on food systems you get at least a few highly knowledgeable staff on site to answer questions.  With an excellent chef, there are no compromises on cafe’ food. With perfectly chosen coffee, your morning brew from Marty’s coffee bar will put a smile on your face on even the worst day.

We like what we see and will give you updates at this new site evolves.

Link: Marty’s Market

-SWB

Out Of A Coma

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

We’re back …. or at least out of a coma.

Slightly after our little stint of “help” from the folks at Sophisticated Pittsburgh on upping our number of blog writers, they in fact lost many of theirs.  In other words people got real jobs, go married, or just disappeared of the face of the earth at SP.  As a result, we are coming back to our original self.

So, about our original self. The blog experimentally started in 2005, and was moved to .mac via the Apple iWeb.  We started writing around the time that PittGirl, CafeWitness, and others started and gained one of the top growing blog rankings ending up with 2000 readers per day, across 15 countries while on the .mac site.

That actually scared us, considering the amount of vomit we spewed out in those days along with the other rant blogs.  I’m not sure we’ll be as harsh these days, but we’ll try.

BTW – while we were hosting on .mac, Apple kindly asked us to move our site due to their product not being originally made for the amount of throughput we were getting.

So, around Spring of 2008 we moved to WordPress.

The Weasel is back, and we will be blowing word chunks as far as possible.

Cheers

-SWB

Review: BD’s Mongolian Grill SouthSide Works

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Yes, a chain made it into one of our ‘fine dining’ reviews.  We were invited to the rehearsal run for the opening on Mongo (apologies to the local owner, but the nickname just stuck), so we decided to send our tech and his wife. That’s how we treat some of our contributing folks to local perks, and get some reviews ourselves. We honestly didn’t think we were going to review on this site, as the review was initially destined for the Screaming Weasel blog we acquired. But …

Sometimes you just get surprised.  We aren’t going to sell Mongo as a five star restaurant, or tell you about some celebrity chef that showed for the opening, or anything even close to that.  What we are going to say is it’s unique, and that’s why we reviewed here.  The creators of Mongo, and the local owner that had enough vision to bring it here deserves our attention.  When our tech came back with the photos from lunch and his opinion of the establishment, we reviewed the info and agreed with him that we might want to consider placing the review here.

Read the rest of the article on Sophisticated Pittsburgh!

PowerUp Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Jobs

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Here we go again …. another program destined to make Pittsburgh great.

PowerUp Pittsburgh (click here to learn more from the Post-Gazette article), will supposedly spider out the successes of the technology and health industries in Oakland.  Some of that has already happened, but PowerUp is supposed to help fill in dying area (where businesses have moved out, etc).  We encourage you to really read the article as it explains the project much better than SWB possibly could.

We are not going to bash the program at all, but in fact we are going to thank Mayor Luke and all involved to get this ball rolling.

Why are we thanking them?  Well, it’s because they aren’t starting with a completely written-in-stone plan.

Why is this good? Because Pittsburgh residents and workers (or more likely ex-workers) still have the time to try and influence it.

So why should ‘Burghers think about trying to influence the program and why did we initially say “Here We Go Again” like we were going to blast the program? One simple reason … we’ve done this before and by the definition of those programs they’ve been wildly successful.

For example, programs to bring industries into Pittsburgh have brought companies like Google, Seagate (now gone, but they came), and other prestigious names into the area … but there is one problem with the available jobs from those companies – they require a Masters or Phd.  So basically the people in the that have lost jobs in Pittsburgh cannot re-acquire employment with the education and skills that they already have because they don’t have that new shiny piece of paper.  Keep in mind many of these people are like me and have 25 years of tech experience with up to date technologies and have massive management and professional skills gained over 25 years of employment.  What people like me don’t have is another $100k to land an entry level position for about $40k.  If you want a decent job today, you are looking at $120k to possibly $250k by the graduation time.  Do the math on that one.  If you gain a decent job (even $50k/yr starting) once you subtract your financial aid payments, you are lucky to make rent payments in a low income housing project (but you aren’t allowed to live there because you now have a good job making $50k/yr).  The chances you have of making a life event remotely close to the quality of the one your parents had is slim and next to nil. Even with the great education … that is until your schooling is paid off, around the age of 65.  So what’s left if you can’t affored the re-ed? … the $8 to $12/hr jobs that still leave you homeless, but with enough money to at least buy clothes so you don’t get arrested for lewdness when you are dumpster-diving at your local McD’s because you can’t even afford to eat there.  So let’s get to your children’s education … it ain’t gonna happen.  Even if you wanted them to go to college you’ve already blown their higher education savings for yourself so you can get back to work.  Nothing left …. sorry kid.

So why do we rant about the above …. isn’t any jobs coming in good jobs?  Yes, and don’t stop supporting the programs that get in place and attract jobs, everything helps.  What people do need to do though is remind those doing the programs that they need to remember those skills already in the area (not the skills they want to attract to the area) so that the people already losing homes, families, and hope can get back to work and recover.  It’s great when new things appear (I lived in SouthSide Words when it was being built, and then the Cork Factory) and that was a wonderful experience.  but now, like many others in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas we watch program after program that helps people come into the city, gain skills, and take them back out … but programs continually totally forget those skills already in place.

I no longer live in the new places because we all forgot to fight to keep our jobs here, and allowed greed to move them out. There is this new re-outsourcing thing.  India, Russia, and others are so overloaded with tech jobs that they no longer have enough skilled persons to do them that they are bringing the jobs back to the US … at their pay levels.  So that job you were paid $30/hr for is not at a rate of about $11 to $13 per hour.  Most of those jobs were illegal to obtain by foreigners that moved to the US, unless there were no US citizens to do them.  So we forgot about our own, and never did any of these new programs address that.

The one key thing that all these wonderful programs forget is that this city at one time was made into and international wonder simply because everyone here supported each other and didn’t forget where we came from.

We’re forgetting … and we are allowing those running programs to forget also.

Don’t let them forget why Pittsburgh was what it was and could be greater if we once again rely on that key thing … building each other up.

Why was Steve Jobs so revered?  He never forgot, and he never stopped pushing those below him to be as passionate as he was.  We need to relearn that.

-SWB